Monday, December 27, 2010

The End of 2010

This has surely been "one o' them years" - hasn't it?  But whether good or bad, I do love new beginnings so am looking forward to seeing what 2011 has in store.  So to catch up,
Can you see my tan N-O-E-L stitcheries?

Look at these cute booties - crocheted and then stiffened.These are both from Margaret in New Zealand.  She was my partner in the Crazy Exchange Christmas exchange.  

Christmas morning celebrations.

I am continuing to work on the latest Bonnie Hunter mystery.  Now working on both Steps 5 and 6 at about the same time - it gets boring making 600 half square triangles, so I moved ahead to the next step - putting 5 hst's together.  I have made quite a few of those strips, so now am back to making squares.

I am really intersted to see how this all goes together.  I believe she said 7 or 8 steps - so a couple more to go.  What are you working on?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I left my camera at my daughter's

So no photos.  I have been having a fun time delivering my Christmas pillow cases.  And I have (at long, long last) finished my 60 - 8.5" string pieced squares for my Bonnie Hunter mystery.  I'm starting on step 4, so that means I'm 1 step behind and another one will be coming along on Friday.  Oh well - as she says, this is FUN and it doesn't matter.  Life is finally coming to the stage where we can just sit back and really enjoy all the Christmas festivities and gatherings.

It is also a time to reflect on the need to "hold" folks for whom this is not a festive time.  They are in a very special place in my heart this year.

Wishing you all time with family and loved ones, peace and blessings.
Nana Marne

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coming up to Christmas

Two parcels arrived from our friend Caroline and Rob yesterday.  One was for SinterKlaus (Dec. 5) and the other was two Christmas parcels (Dec. 25).  These included two wonderful "soft" gifts,

Aren't they cute?  And she sent the patterns, in case I need to make some for next year. 

In the morning, my CTA group had their annual Cookie and ornament exchange.  I cannot show you mine as I also made one for my dear quilty friend whom I know reads here, but what it said was "Relax - Christmas will come regardless".  Isn't that just so timely?
Almond Boysenberry squares.  New recipe for me, from Canadian Living magazine.  And the ornament that Pat W. made for me,

I found this hilarious fabric and have been making pillowcases as Christmas gifts.  Can you guess the name?  "All I want for Christmas...."  How perfect!

And the postal lady brought my little quarterly pleasure, yesterday, as well.  These are from the Danish line called Basics - 6 fat quarters each quarter.  My little treat to me.
That's dark green in the upper left corner and brown in the lower left corner.  Still making string pieced neutrals 8.5" squares.  Sigh!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December fun

Each of the past 10 (or so) years we have gathered a group of women and have 'adopted' a family for Christmas, through our church.  It is always so much fun to get together and chat, despite our busy lives.  We always host and have others bring the rest of the meal.  This year it was chili - perfect on a cold, rainy day, along with cornbread and salad.  Dessert was marvelous mocha caramel bars.  Oh my.  They we had some "show and tell" of the things we had purchased for the various family members (this year it was mom and dad and 5 children, ages 2 months to 16 years).  And then we shared all of last year's wrapping paper with each other and wrapped the gifts.

Marsha played grandmom with Baby Amelia, while mom actually wrapped - so cute
Today we took the gifts to the church for delivery to the family.  Just great for everyone involved.

After church today we enjoyed a delicious holiday brunch with some of the folks we go camping with during the summer and an ornament exchange.  Aren't these so cute.  This is what we came home with. The snowman is wearing the colors of the University of Washington - our hometown favorites! and we love the bicycle.

And then just so I don't get "rusty", I have been making string-pieced blocks as fast as I can.  For the Bonnie Hunter mystery I need 60.  I think I have made about 25.  Phew!
Ain't it great?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Exchange

Today a Christmas exchange arrived, from New Zealand.  Oh, I really feel so fortunate have met so many marvelous, skillful women through the Crazy Exchange.

No peeky - 2+ weeks to wait.  I didn't even peek at the customs form.  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Busy, busy

Today, after church, it was time to get on with Christmas preparations, so courtesy of jars from last year's church rummage sale, and labels friend Caro sent from Dille & Kamille in the Netherlands,
I got the Lemon Curd (a la Cooking Light) on its way,
And so now I will have little jars of sunshine ready to give as gifts.  How incredibly easy and I know it's delicious, too.  [Perhaps a few jars will need to be made to fill my cupboards as well.  :-)  ]
The sewing 'stuff' is still happening. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

the Challenge continues. . . . . .

My dear sewing machine is still not working properly.  The shop called yesterday to report that it was back from servicing, so I went out there to pick it up - AFTER I did an onsite test run.  It didn't work well for me.  The store manager could make it do free-motion quilting, with the machine set at a slow speed (my requirement) but could only make tiny stitches.  My goal is for longer stitches than that.  Every time I tried it - sitting right beside the manager - I would get skipped stitches.  AWFUL!  So we agreed that I would return today, after she chatted with the service manager (again) and we would try with both the spring-action foot, as well as the sensor-matic foot.  So I showed up today, with 3 little quilt sandwiches to practice on.  The store manager tried to make the machine work and it did alright, at first, but did skip a few times.  So she decided to try a different needle - it got worse.  She changed to another type of needle - dreadful.  She changed the thread and the bobbin and couldn't make it work for anything!!!!!  Hurrah.  I was just so delighted that it wasn't just me.  It wasn't working in the shop and then quitting when I got home.  It was a disaster for the store manager.  Yeah!  She called the service manager again who had no suggestion over the phone.  So she's headed back to the service department.  That poor machine has spent more time in the shop than in my sewing room - or at least it seems so.  Alas.  Thank heavens the old one works just swell.  Still making Christmas gifts but no-can-show.

I can share this.  Last night was our Stashbusters Holiday party and fabric exchange.  The invitation says bring an "ugly" fabric, but obviously that is in the eyes of the beholder.  So perhaps we should say 'unattractive' fabric, or better yet out-of-date fabric.  I got one busy floral, but it was "stolen" by another member.  So I got
The pink/blue is probably a 70's fabric.  And the asian fabric is only about 9 inches wide.  The challenge that was issued later at the party was to figure out a way to use your fabric to make something.  So here are my submission,
Hot pads.  I had insulbrite batting, so now just to add some binding and voila!  Probably not my first choice but adequate.  Yes?

We had a very nice day today with quite a bit of sunshine.  So here are the results of decent weather
Festive, no?  Obviously I'm just a big kid at heart.  Happy Holidays to all!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Santa's Workshop

Well phaphooey - This Santa has been quite busy but I also know that some of my readers will also be recipients, sooooooo -- sorry no photos at the moment to show.  It is fun to be making things and hoping that they will be well received.  I am hoping to get some Lemon Curd made for Christmas gifts, as well.  Last year at the church's annual superfluity sale I got 8 or 10 matching jars with lids.  Perfect for Lemon Curd.  I found a couple of very nice little girl dresses from Hanna Andersson - matching ones for littlest granddaughter and the two granddaughters of my friend Kerry.  It's so nice to find nice quality, good fitting dresses that still look like little girls - as opposed to much of what is available in many stores. [just a short editorial there!]

As in years past we have put together a group of folks and "adopted" a family for Christmas.  Mom, Dad and 5 children.  On the 11th we'll celebrate by having lunch and wrapping our gifts.  They are due to be delivered to the church the next day.  This is always a fun part of our holidays.  And a happy Hanukkah this evening to those celebrating those holy days.  Enjoy!  Life is good.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday night reporting

Hello - here we are, already to Sunday.  Between my years and the calendar speeding by, I think I'm already behind.  Whoa!  Only a bit of sewing around here - too much else going on.  My DD and her 3 little ones arrived on Tuesday mid-day.  They had lost power on Monday evening and spent the night sleeping on the living room floor in front of the fireplace [ not the most effective heat source ].  DD had to get up every 3 hours and stoke the fire.  She reported that by Tuesday morning it was 45` in her house.  So they headed to Nana's a bit earlier than originally planned.  This holiday didn't usually include her husband as he chose to work Thanksgiving in exchange for having Christmas off.   So that part of the time wasn't so hard.  (Christmas is going to be really tough!)  Coupled with our snow, our little house got to feel a bit small with 3 young, active kidlets around - plus 3 adults.  Oh well.

Thanksgiving was delightful if not totally chaotic.  11 adults and 7 children.  Fortunately I could locate enough chairs for everyone.  The mixed dishes and cutlery were just part of the festivities.  The 5 year old son of one of the guests made place cards for all of us - even with our names printed on them.  Some of the children also made placements noting things they were thankful for.  Everyone brought food and we dined like absolute kings.  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, butternut squash, pesto roasted vegetables (carrots, beans, onions), brussel sprouts with apple and onion, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and of course, green bean casserole.  Dear Kerry, as is often her style, outdid herself and made 2 kinds of pumpkin pie, apple pie, berry/cherry pie and pear and rosemary cake.  We did space it all out a bit, so no one comotose.  In fact, 2 of the dads and one of the moms took all 7 kids sledding between dinner and dessert, while the rest of us started the clean up.  And we also portioned out the left-overs so everyone got to take food home with them.  My photos really don't do the event justice, but

Meanwhile, I did sneak in a couple of hours to work on the Bonnie Hunter current mystery.  Great fun.  I made her Christmas mystery last year and loved it, so thought why not try this again.

 172 pink/green/pink strips completed.  Maybe 70-some of the required 1/2 squares of the pink and brown.  Check it out: Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll from Bonnie Hunter. [I noticed this morning that she is showing Christmas Lights, which I made last year.]  Love it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

La Nina November

Well the temperate, mild northwest is smacking back.  The temperature this morning is 23`, up from 21` earlier.

  Today is predicted to be cold and clear, a bit breezy with snow returning tonight.  This does not bode well for Thanksgiving travelers.  Keep your fingers crossed.  My daughter and kids are coming over today and will just stay - they lost power yesterday and slept on the floor in front of the fireplace.  Does Santa need to find a portable generator?  Stay warm!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday evening

Well, the white stuff did arrive a bit today.  Not so much in the city as in the surrounding areas, but white nonetheless.  And in a city of hills we are {I am}somewhat wimpy about driving.  So it means that plans get put on "maybe" - depending.  So CTA will just depend on what the morning brings.  This morning at 6:45am it was 36`.  Right now (9:30pm) it's 34`.  Oh brrrrrrr.

But it also means some time for sitting behind my machine.  But if I may rant for a short bit, I'm sitting behind the old machine,
my wonderful Pfaff 7550.  It just "takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'"  It is such a great, dependable machine.  At one point a technician told me to never get rid of this machine, it was a 'work horse'.  He wasn't kidding  This one just keeps on doing what it is able to do.

In January '09 I got hooked on a Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.  Now don't misunderstand it is a really amazing machine WHEN it works right.  Unfortunately that is only a small portion of the time.  I finally took it in again and said that I was really quite fed up and considering simply buying a Bernina.  Having owned Pfaff's for almost 30 years I think I got their attention.  I have had practically half of all its parts replaced but it still won't do a decent free-motion stitch.  I dared to suggest that perhaps this one particular machine (friend Caroline has this machine and it works very well for her) is a lemon.  The store manager even wrote on the slip that the customer wants a new machine.  We shall see what happens, but meanwhile good ole bessie (above) is just working a treat.  Today I made the 172 pink and green strips called for in Bonnie Hunter's new mystery.  Check out her blog,

Yesterday I finished up my practice piece of hand quilting.  I hope you can see the design (cream on cream is a bit hard to see)
It's a four armed feathers design.  Good practice.  Now I must quickly start something else so I don't lose the momentum.  Stay warm.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Coming

This is actually from last year, but it's about time to get it down from the attic and start to get ready for the big day.  We are carrying on a tradition we started many moons ago, but it seems to work so well.  I have bought a turkey and a turkey breast.  I will cook those.  Virtually all the rest of the meal comes as part of a "directed" potluck.  My son and spouse will bring stuffing and a vegetable - likely green bean casserole.  Daughter is in charge of mashed potatoes - do I hear garlic mashed potatoes??  A friend with squash, friends with another vegetable and cranberry and two others with dessert.  Last year she made 3 things to choose among (or have very small tastes of all three!!!!  Oink, oink!)  Then we have purchased some of those grocery store knock-off left-over containers and everyone can take some of the meal home with them for some tasty next day left-overs.  It really works so well and it is pretty stressless for everyone.  I did bring in the extra convection oven from the motorhome (we don't have a built-in oven so this one serves the purpose) and so should have baking space aplenty.  And as I have a second refrigerator, there's room for sparkling cider for the kids (or adults who would prefer same) and some adult beverages from the wine store.

The TV weather man has mentioned the "S" word (snow) but we are hoping it finds itself in locales other then this one - too many folks need to be driving to get here.  Our little home with be cozy with 11 adults and 7 small ones (oldest is 10) but we will be most thankful to have each other.  Gobble, gobble!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday news

Aren't these georgous?  Friend Laura had bought these Tonga Treasures late last summer (40 pieces - 10" squares) and then decided she was really unlikely to do anything interesting and fun with them, so lucky for me, she decided that I needed them.  In fact she brought me two packs of these marvelous batiks.  I'm going to go looking for the latest Schnibbles book that I know uses 10" squares.  (I know because I looked at it in Houston).

I did complete a "dresser scarf" (or skinny table runner) as my gift for the CTA Crazy Exchange. 

Remember I got the wonderful wysteria napkins.  I should have had my gift done last week, but alas I ran out of time.  So Jan will get this at our December meeting.  Then I have to come up with something for Susan, as my 'reply' for the napkins.  That will be due in January.   I am working on completing a Christmas exchange - but I cannot show you a picture [she reads my blog]  This time it happens that Caroline is my recipient, but she isn't my partner, so I don't know who I will be hearing from.  Oh this is fun!

I got 3 things sandwiched.  Now to the quilting part.  (nothing interesting to show you)  Happy days.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday sunshine

Our friend Laura is here visiting from sunny southern California.  Luckily we have been able to show her some sunshine while she is here (not always the case in November in the northwest).

Last week at the Thanksgiving CTA luncheon each member received a "thanks for giving" gift.  We got to choose from a huge selection of "thread catchers" made by some of our longer-time members.  This is mine - isn't it just sooooo cute,

 Such fun, cheerful fabric.  And then, we had decided to do a gift exchange, modeled on the Crazy Exchangers that I belong to.  And so this is what Susan made for me,

She took old dish towels and cut them smaller and stenciled the wysteria and leaves to make napkins.  Aren't they wonderful and what a good idea.  Now perhaps a purple tablecloth or placemats.  Ain't life grand?


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday update

Having been away I seem to have several little things to share with you,

As you may recall, each year Stashbusters makes a "group" quilt to raffle in the Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Sale (to pay our space rental for the year).  So here is this year's offering.  We were quite excited with how it turned out.  All those batiks in greens, blues, teals and then the very light backgrounds.  Everyone participates in one way or another.  Now to sell lots of tickets to raise lots of money.

While in Houston, the three of us took a class on hand quilting, taught by Jane Hall.  She may not be an extremely well-known name, but she is a quilt judge across the nation.  It was a pleasant class and she is a good teacher.  Some of the things she taught us were visible on some of the quilts in the show.  Interesting!  So here are some pix of my practice piece.  She said to take it home and keep working on it.  She suggested that by February we should be good enough to do a Valentine piece using red thread on white a ground.  Hmmmm.  My homework:

I'm taking her at her word that even-ness is more important than size - although tiny is nice.  She had us start with size 10 quilting needles with a goal of moving to an 11.  Yikes!  Feels like my fingers are too big!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Houston Quilt Show

Houston Quilt Show photos:

As is the case, no doubt, with everyone who was in attendance, this is one amazing presentation.  Not only is it HUGE (and we're talking about 1400+ quilts here) there were hundreds (I didn't actually count) of vendors selling everything (and we do mean everything) you could ever want or need, plus a few things more.  I met people from Germany, Singapore, Venezuela, Great Britain, Australia, Japan and the Netherlands.  I just didn't meet some of the others who were also there from around the globe.

So what did we notice?  This was the year of the borders and bindings - they were unique and very different.  You will see in a few of my photos where I tried to capture that - they were wavy, shaped, pieced.  There were minute (as in tiny) borders - usually of a different color which really set off the quilt center.  There was piping around the edge of the quilt - almost imitating rick rack.  Buttons.  Interesting.  It seemed to me that there were far fewer art quilts - although there was still that category with some amazing entrants, but many pieced, more traditional quilts.  As usual there were a number of quilts that we were not allowed to photograph - so good luck.

So what did I buy?  Not fabric.  I did buy a few tools and I'll show you those over these next few days/weeks.  One of the highlights for me was meeting An Moonen, a Textile curator from the Netherlands.  I treated myself to a copy of her glossy, art book (in English) on the History of Dutch Quilts.  I also met Petra Prins, the owner of Den Haan and Wagenmaker in Amsterdam,
Such a lovely lady.  I look forward to visiting her quilt shop in the eastern Netherlands, as well, next time I'm there.  I didn't take a photo but also got to meet another blogger, Jossie from Limburg, in the Netherlands.  It is so fabulous to get to meet, in-person, folks I've talked with here online.  Great, great fun!

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Rains

Thankfully the heavy rain held off for the Trick-or-Treaters last night.  But now, oh my, autumn wetness is here with VIGOR!  This will be a quick "hello" and "god-bye" as I'm off to Houston.  Hurrah!  I was able to visit the Quilt Show a few years ago and then the opportunity came up to go this year, again.  So tomorrow morning I will be flying south.  Much excitement.  One of the fun adventures, in addition to warmer weather, marvelous quilts, sales of everything imaginable (quilt related), great classes and lectures, I will get to meet, in person, Jossie of  She is coming with several other Dutch quilters so I will have a chance to expand that wonderful International Quilting circle - I have been so fortunate to have come to know other quilters from around the world and it just keeps growing.  Oh lucky me!

Just just a quick catch-up - in early October we took a quick trip to Victoria.  It included a great visit to Butchart Gardens.  So lovely, even in the rain.

Dolly-sized quilt made from scraps left over from the purple stars lap quilt.  Oh it feels so frugal to be able to use all the pieces - even the left-overs!  Stash busting!

Charming quilt store in Victoria.  They feature many patterns from local designers and have a large selection of patterns in "native" designs.  Look for it if you are there.

Oh, oh - it's the great pumpkin!  News of Houston to follow.